The present study describes the immunotoxic effect of chronic fluoride exposure on adult zebrafish (Danio rerio). Zebrafish were exposed to fluoride (71.12 mg/L; 1/10 LC50) for 30 d and the expression of selected genes studied. We observed significant elevation in the detoxification pathway gene cyp1a suggesting chronic exposure to non-lethal concentration of fluoride is indeed toxic to fish. Fluoride mediated pro-oxidative stress is implicated with the downregulation in superoxide dismutase 1 and 2 (sod1/2) genes. Fluoride affected DNA repair machinery by abrogating the expression of the DNA repair gene rad51 and growth arrest and DNA damage inducible beta a gene gadd45ba. The upregulated expression of casp3a coupled with altered Bcl-2 associated X protein/B-cell lymphoma 2 ratio (baxa/bcl2a) clearly suggested chronic fluoride exposure induced the apoptotic cascade in zebrafish. Fluoride-exposed zebrafish when challenged with non-lethal dose of fish pathogen A. hydrophila revealed gross histopathology in spleen, bacterial persistence and significant mortality. We report that fluoride interferes with system-level output of pro-inflammatory cytokines tumour necrosis factor-?, interleukin-1? and interferon-?, as a consequence, bacteria replicate efficiently causing significant fish mortality. We conclude, chronic fluoride exposure impairs the redox balance, affects DNA repair machinery with pro-apoptotic implications and suppresses pro-inflammatory cytokines expression abrogating host immunity to bacterial infections.
Keywords: Apoptosis; DNA repair; Fluoride; Oxidative stress; Pro-inflammatory cytokine; Zebrafish.